CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers went back to a tried and true formula from last year in their 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. Stay close and lose. Let me repeat that – stay close and lose. And, the Panthers are not happy about it. This team needs to get off to a quick start – the last two seasons they have started 2-8, and that will be unacceptable for this year’s team.
The Panthers were driving for a potential go-ahead score when running back DeAngelo Williams fumbled at the end of a 16-yard run inside the Seattle 10. Cornerback Richard Sherman hit Williams from the front, safety Earl Thomas popped the ball loose from behind, and defensive Tony McDaniel recovered at the Seahawks’ 8 with 5:25 left. Stay close and lose.
The announced Bank of America Stadium attendance was 73,294…and none of them came to see a replay of the last two seasons.
Here’s a round-up of quotes from players and coaches following the game:
DeAngelo Williams (76 yards on 16 carries): “It ultimately came down to that fumble, let’s just get that out of the way. It was my fault. In that situation, I’ve watched countless film on them and I know that’s what they do, they strip and go for the ball. But I’m a fighter. I’m going to fight for every yard that I can get and help my team win. When the ball came out, no one else was more (upset) than I was,” Williams said. “The hopes and dreams of the 11 guys on offense resided in that ball.”
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera: “You know I’d like to believe we have an opportunity to change (the memories of last season),” he said. “I’d like to believe that definitely we can get these things worked out and get it rolling. Again it’s a good football team we played against but we had opportunity … to beat a team that a lot of people are crowing right now. And you know it should be a wake-up call for us that hey, we can play with anybody and we are most certainly capable, and we’re going to win some football games.”
Rivera on what HE has to do to get over such a disheartening loss: “Go right back to work. I mean there’s really nothing you can do. … Just try to find the answer. I mean that’s what I’ll continue to do. And we found it last year late and it’s time to find it early. It really is. We can’t wait and I understand that and we will certainly find that answer and get rolling.”
Panthers wide receiver (and most vocal of all Charlotte players) Steve Smith: “I think we’re going to see them again deep in January. For us to have played that team that’s considered by all accounts the best team in the NFL … I think if that’s who’s the best team, it came down to the last (minutes) and it was a well-fought game. Our season is not over.
“All the reports say we have to start fast or the season’s over,” Smith said. “If (Sunday’s game) means the season’s over, I’m not sure what kind of football y’all are used to around here. Because that’s not a quitting team.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton: “Let’s not panic now. We’re going to be all right. It’s just the first game. We played an unbelievable team and my hat goes off to Russell Wilson and those guys with Seattle. But I just feel like it was nothing that they did to stop us. It was just us that weren’t making the plays.”
Seahawks cornerback (and vocal team leader) Richard Sherman: “Great defenses find a way. And that’s what we try to do.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (who finished with a regular-season career-high 320 passing yards, completing 25 of 33 pass attempts): “We just kept it alive,” speaking of overcoming the slow start offensively. “I think that attitude, that mentality, that coach (Pete) Carroll instills in us really gives us a chance to keep battling no matter what the circumstances are.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll: “The way we started, we were backed up and they got after us pretty good,” speaking of Wilson, who finished with a quarterback rating of 115.7. “He didn’t start real well — it wasn’t necessarily him, but we didn’t get the completions.”
“I thought he did a great job against a very active pass rush,” Carroll said. “He’s more in command of everything that we are doing in every phase. We don’t have to hold anything back. We can do everything we can think of and he can handle it.”
The Panthers return to action next Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to meet the resurgent Bills (who should have beaten New England yesterday) in a critical game.